Mysteries of the Forest

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My feet pounded against the leaf-covered ground, causing little puffs of reddish-brown dirt to fly into the air. I was moving so quickly, I felt sure if anybody happened to see me running, I would be just a blur, a streak of color flying through the trees.


I glanced over my shoulder to make sure nobody was following me. I couldn’t risk having anyone discover my secret hideout. Seeing that I was quite alone in this big, wide forest, I slowed down a little.


It had taken much effort to con my way out of my royal lessons this time. They were getting better at keeping an eye on me. But in the end, that stable boy just didn’t have enough guts. All it took were a few tiny pieces of gold, and he let me run free. It was only a matter of time before he tattled and they came looking for me, though. It was a good thing this forest was so huge.


I loved exploring the forest, its ancient trees hiding the secrets of so many people, most of which have only been heard in old legends of the kingdom. Most people, including my mother, considered those stories to be rubbish, but I believed in them with all my heart.


As I continued through the spiky briars and twigs, I thought briefly that I had gone the wrong way; but then I saw the strange-shaped willow tree that marked the entrance to my beautiful garden of fantasy. Ducking under the tree and its swaying branches, I stepped into a mystical garden full of moss-covered willows and large, twisting vines sprouting dancing flowers in bright oranges and yellows, reds and blues.


Here, in this garden, I could feel all the magic of the forest flowing through the branches and petals. I knew that if I just stayed long enough, something magical, like fairies, pixies, goblins, or elves would come prancing out of the cover of the trees and make their incredible magic known to me.


I settled down on my favorite log and closed my eyes, breathing in the scent of wildlife and clean, fresh air.


A twig cracked as weight was pressed onto it. My eyes popped open. I glanced around for any sign of the disturbance that cut through the peacefulness of the quiet forest like a knife slicing a loaf of bread.


There, standing directly in front of me, was a boy about my age. His face was round and innocent-looking, with the most curious eyes I had ever seen. They were blue and sparkling, but what fascinated me the most was their intensity. I felt as if they looked right through me and straight into my heart and soul. It was as if by just glancing at my face, he could read every thought that had ever been in my head. This wasn’t a feeling I
received from most boys my age.


At first I had been a little frightened by the sudden presence of this boy, but now,
when he looked into my eyes, the most peaceful feeling came over me. I didn’t know why, but somehow I absolutely knew I could trust him.


He was staring at me, his mouth curved up in amusement.

“Can I ask you a question?” His voice was clear, exactly what I would have expected to come out of his mouth after experiencing the effect of his eyes.


“Sure,” I responded.


“Do you want to see the mysteries of this forest?”


I stared at him, but was somehow unsurprised when he guessed exactly what had been on my mind.


“How did you know what I was thinking?” I asked, not completely knowing what to expect.


Sheer amusement spread across his features. “So, I guessed right?” An even broader smile stretched across his face. “You always come into this garden with the same look of wonder on your face. So, I’m right? You do want to see more of this forest, don’t you?” He began to walk towards a corner of the garden that I’d never explored. I
hurriedly rose from my log and followed him.


When I reached him, something he had said clicked in my brain. “Wait, you said I
always come into the garden with the same look on my face. That means you’ve been watching me,” I accused, squinting into his eyes.


He chuckled, “Well, what do you suggest I do? One day, you come walking into the forest, trampling plants, and sitting down on a log in my favorite place to pass time. What would you have done in my situation?” He had a point. If someone I didn’t know
had come waltzing into my bedroom or a place I considered my own, I would have been curious too.


I sighed and allowed him to lead me into leafy depths of the this new, unknown part of the forest.


I was in a sort of daze as he sauntered over to the edge of the beautiful garden and reached out to separate a huge clump of vines that hung from a tree. When I was able to see past the vines, I could tell they hid the entrance to what appeared to be a long and
dark cave.


He grabbed my hand, but before climbing through the vines, he glanced straight into my wide, excited eyes, and gave me an expression that I didn’t quite know how to interpret. Before I could even give it a thought, he ducked through the vines and pulled me through with him.


My first thought was that the cave was extremely dark, and just as if I’d spoken my thought aloud, the boy said, “It’s not as dark as it seems.”


I waited for him to pull me along the unfamiliar corridors of the cave, but he simply sat there. Just when I was about to ask him what we were doing, he said, “Look.”


I knew immediately what he meant. All along the walls of the cave, and even on the ceiling, tiny jewels of light began to shimmer. Awed, I reached out toward one of the sparkling lights. When my fingers touched it, I realized it was a stone; a very beautiful glittering and glowing rock. Still struck by the amazing beauty, I pried the twinkling stone out of the cave wall and held it in my hand.


“You can keep it,” I heard the boy say. Now able to see him clearly, I saw that his hand was outstretched towards me. As I placed my fingers in his, I could hardly restrain myself from breaking loose and bolting toward the cave‘s exit. If it held anything as fantastic and wonderful as the cave did, I was in for a wonderful adventure.


Excitement wriggled its way through my entire body as we edged near the end of the glittering cave. If the boy had let my hand go, I was sure I would have sprinted past him and through the circle of light that was at the end of the cave. But as we finally came to the end, and I saw what laid beyond, it was so much more incredible than I could have ever imagined.


The cave opened up to a vast clearing, covered in grass that looked softer than even the finest rugs in the kingdom. In the middle of the clearing, there was a beautiful sparkling pond, the sun and clouds reflecting off its clear surface like a mirror. Beside the lake was a stone cottage, with ivy running down its pale walls, and trees blanketing its back.


Even though this was the most beautiful natural scene I had ever witnessed, what caught my eye were the pairs of neon-colored eyes peering from behind the trees.

Fascinated, I turned to the boy. “Who’s that behind the trees?”


He turned to me and grinned. “Those are the elves!”


Wide eyed and open-mouthed, I stumbled across the clearing and straight toward the bright eyes that gazed at me.


The elf closest to me stepped from behind the tree and stared straight into my eyes. She was tall and had cropped fiery red hair, and eyes that matched. Her skin was a deep gold, and when she stepped out into the sun, the light bounced off her skin, causing it to shimmer. She was a colorful and wingless version of what I would have imagined the angels from Heaven to look like.


I was a little surprised when the elf slowly reached out and grabbed my hand. My skin was so shockingly plain and white compared to her brilliant gold. As I looked into her eyes, she gave me a look that said, “I want to show you something.” As she began to glide into the trees, I suddenly remembered the boy. I turned, and found him right behind us, his grin as wide as the ocean


Suddenly, I felt slim arms reach under me and hoist me into the air. Just as I was about to ask what was happening, the elf picked up speed and shot through the forest like a cheetah, carrying me with her.


As the wind whipped around my face and my eyes squinted from the pressure, I noticed something amazing happening around me. While the trees surrounding us were becoming a blur, I began to see creatures. They were unlike any I had ever seen before. I saw short, fat, extremely ugly little men, though their grotesque noses made them look completely inhuman. Next were the lizard creatures. Their scaly faces and forked tongues gave them a sinister appearance. They were massive, and the length between their tails and faces could not have been less than forty feet.


The elf continued to carry me through the forest, and I soon lost count of how many creatures I saw. As she was slowing down, I do remember a tiny bright green body
with purple wings flew up to me, stuck her diminutive face straight in front of one of my eyes, laughed, and then nipped me on the nose before flying off into the trees.


The elf brought me out of the trees and set me down beside the sparkling lake, where the boy was sitting on the grass waiting for me. At this point, I was extremely overwhelmed. I steadied myself, careful not to fall over when I knelt beside him.


“So, what’d you think?” His blue eyes were searching mine. I felt sure he knew exactly what I was thinking, but I answered him anyway. “I don’t know what to think anymore.”


His laugh rang across the clearing, clear as a bell.


“Why did you bring me here and let me see these things?” I asked him.


He paused for a moment, then said, “Because you were looking for it.”


I was about to ask what he meant, when I heard, “LILY!!!!!!!!!!!”


How did my mother’s guards find me all the way out here? Surely they couldn’t have found their way to this place. Could they?


As always, he guessed exactly what I was thinking, “They’re not close to here. We can just hear their voices echoing through the cave.”


Relieved that they hadn’t found this place, but also upset that I had to leave, I remained still. I wanted to soak up as much of this place as I could.


“You’ll be able to come back here, you know.” His gentle and encouraging face was enough to make the corners of my mouth draw up in a smile.


“Will you be here the next time I come?” I asked him.


“If I’m not here, I’ll be in your garden.” He grinned. “And maybe you won’t be so surprised next time.”


Comforted by his optimism, but depressed that I had to leave, I ambled back toward the cave. Just before reaching it, I glanced back, and once again I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place. My last view was of the boy, his beaming face aimed directly at me. I smiled back, and began my journey back through the cave.


All I was thinking as I climbed through the vines, sauntered through the garden, and ducked under the willow was how excited I would be when I was able to go back to the beautiful, mysterious place behind the cave. I sighed, allowed myself to scramble through the forest towards the castle where I lived, and gripped the shimmering rock that I still held in my hand.





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